My garden in the Springtime

It was a bit overcast and wet today, so I thought it would be ideal conditions for some images of the flowering shrubs and plants in my garden. So armed with the Olympus E-M1 and two lenses here are the results, I hope you enjoy the beauty of nature as I do at this time of year.

Garden flowers

Lavender Azalea

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Spring Lambs

Now that spring has finally arrived in the UK (about time), I cannot think of a better thing to do than go for a walk and encounter one of natures delights, spring lambs.

Below are a few photo’s, captured in and around the South Downs National Park in the county of Sussex.

Spring Lamb

Spring lamb feeding on meadow grass

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Eridge Railway Station

Eridge railway station in the county of East Sussex in England is located on the branch line from Uckfield. This line serves a fairly rural community as it winds its way through the county of East Sussex before sneaking into Kent and then joining the East Grinstead line at Oxted in Surrey.

Eridge Station Platform

The heritage platform side

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Red matching top

This was a planned trip to London to explore the city and capture some architecture, leaving home the sky looked quite promising with some light cloud. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas, on arrival the sky was dull grey and overcast, with no moving clouds, and pretty uninteresting. I am not a fan of flat dull sky, although great for macro photography, not great for the pictures that I had planned.

Posing for a photo by a red telephone box.

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Sony HX60 a good travel compact camera?

Just got hold of a Sony HX60 as I thought it would maybe make a good compact camera for carrying with me as an alternative to the RX100 MkII. Although I love the RX100 I just sometimes need a bit extra reach when I am out and about on a walk, and don’t want to carry the Olympus E-M1 and a couple of lenses. I remember back in the days of film cameras carrying a large bag of equipment especially on trips to France and Italy, how did I manage that weight I will never know.

So what does the HX60 give me against all of my other camera gear, well to start with a zoom lens that covers the 35mm equivalent of 24-722mm, that’s a 30x zoom lens in a very small package. Unfortunately, the lens is not very bright, with an f-stop of only 3.5 at the wide end, and 6.3 at the telephoto end. The other key point is no RAW capture, not that is a major issue, it’s just that I would prefer that to Jpeg only.

So how did it perform, well not that bad really, I used it with the FDA-EV1M electronic viewfinder that I use with the RX100 MkII, as I feel it gives the camera a bit more stability, especially on the telephoto end. I would also add that I used the lowest ISO setting of 80 where possible to get the best out of the camera, as I would expect that raising the ISO would result in increasing the luminance noise.

To test the camera I walked to Buxted Park not far from my home in the county of East Sussex in the UK.

Dragonfly

A Dragonfly laying eggs in the water @493mm focal length

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Adobe Photoshop finally seeing more use

As I said in an earlier post I am an Adobe CC subscriber, and use Lightroom Classic CC as my main photo editor. I have played around with Lightroom CC, however it doesn’t have the full suite of tools that are in the Classic version, although I have found the cloud sync useful. I expect that gradually it will catch up with Classic over time as I assume that is the direction that Adobe eventually wants to take us.

Now Adobe Photoshop is a product that I am slowly using more and more for my image editing, to date I mainly used it with the full suite of Nik plugins, that I purchased well before Google got their hands on them.

After having watched a lot of videos on YouTube over the last 6 months or so, I am now getting into Luminosity Masking, so much so that I decide to invest in one of the many Panels that are now available to purchase. My research eventually came down to two contenders, and after much deliberation, I finally picked Lumenzia which is developed by Greg Benz.

I have been using it now for a few weeks and I am delighted with the results that I am seeing from my images. I realize that all of the functions of the panel can be performed in Photoshop without it, but it saves the need to spend hours learning the procedures to achieve the final outcome. So, all in all, I am very happy with the tool and what I can do with it, in much the same way as when I started to use the Nik Plugins.

The blending of bracketed multiple exposures is something that I have performed for a long time, using either HDR Efex Pro or merge to HDR in Lightroom or Photoshop, with some mixed results, some pleasing while others have been ghastly. Now exposure blending in layers in Photoshop has so far given me a much more realistic output that I am very pleased with. The image below was blended from two exposures in Photoshop using Luminosity Masking and contrast added using the Pro Contrast in Nix Color Efex Pro 4, with a little vignette added in Camera RAW.

Olympus EM-1 12-40mm F2.8

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Subscription software what do you think?

I have seen a lot of comments about the subscription-based software model that Adobe has now adopted for Photoshop and Lightroom, and other non-photography software. Some people seem to object to paying a monthly fee, for me, I see it as a good thing as I never have to pay for major upgrades. I seem to remember that Photoshop alone used to cost several hundred GB pounds, and was something that I could never budget for, let alone pay for the upgrades.

Anyway adding up the cost of the annual subscription seems very reasonable to me, as I get access to four applications all for £120.20 per year based on the exchange rate 13 Feb 2018 that’s approx $167 or €135. I personally joined Adobe Creative Cloud in June 2014 and the annual fee then was just over £105.00. Up until that point, I  purchased a CD version of Lightroom from version 1 upwards and used Photoshop Elements (Free with my scanner) for pixel based editing. The following table is what I paid for the software in UK pounds from Amazon UK. Continue reading

Airplane travel and camera gear

Having just returned from a short trip to Spain, travelling on a commercial airline is becoming harder and harder for photographers on a budget. So this post is not only my view but also something that may change what gear I currently use or choose in the future.

My current travel camera is my trusty Olympus E-M1, I carry this with a flashgun, two primes the 60mm macro and either the 17mm or the 25mm and two zooms, the 12-40mm and the 75-300mm. I fit all this and my 13″ Mac Book Pro and Kindle (essential for air travel, as I get bored flying) into an old Lowepro Mini Trekker AW. My tripod, filters, charger and power supplies go into checked in luggage. The carry on luggage usually weighs in about 10lbs, so currently is ok for all the UK budget airlines.

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My well worn Lowepro Mini Trekker AW

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My Macro Gear

As promised in my last post I would include an article on the gear that I use for Macro photography, when I travel, stay in my garden or capture indoors.

The first bit of kit serves two purposes when used on Sony A7R, as I also have a film – slide copier attachment for the Olympus bellows (second image). I have two OM macro lenses that I use they are the 50mm F3.5 and the 80mm F4.0, the latter is used in combination with the bellows and A7R to copy 35mm film or 35mm slides.

Sony A7R

Sony A7R – OM to FE Lens adapter – Olympus Bellows & Olympus OM 80mm F4.0 Lens

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A walk with a macro lens

I decided to take a short walk in the Sussex countryside today with a simple macro setup, just a camera, macro lens and two flashguns. The Yongnuo YN560-III for off camera, and the Olympus FL-LM2 for on camera fill flash. I always like to travel as light as possible, depending on what the brief for the day is, so no tripod, insects don’t tend to hang around while you position your kit. I will give a full description of what macro kit I use in another post and some samples of what can be achieved even with fairly old equipment.

My walk took me through a meadow that was full of grazing sheep only a few weeks ago, now empty with the growing grass full of flowering clover.

Clover flower

Olympus EM-1 60mm Macro lens @F13 1/250 Yongnuo YN560-III off camera

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